But not from war or carnage. From cleaning the bathroom cabinet.
More specifically from rescuing the cabinet from disaster. Our cabinet is newish, cleanish, and fullish. In it we store more than we need for longer than it should stay there. We have always had patent medicines and fancy soaps in there – exotic concoctions bought at a whim – but rarely do they turn on us and punish us for our folly.
However, one bottle did.
I opened the wife’s side of the cabinet one day to find a bottle of Plax mouthwash glued to the bottom shelf. It was intact, but something else had burst, enveloped it and a toothbrush glass, then set hard. And I do mean HARD. Tawny, glasslike, and translucent. Nothing that it glued was ever going to move.
Working on the theory that my wife had not been storing epoxy resin or two-pack fibreglass in the bathroom, I set about trying solvents and chisels to shift it. Chisels had no effect. Water made it slightly sticky, so I smothered the mess with a wet towel and left it for several hours.
Sure enough, there was movement at the station – very sticky movement, and the process of rolling up the sticky blob took the best part of 6 hours of alternate soaking and knifing. Eventually the Plax bottle was freed – without bursting – and at the end of the evening the toothbrush glass was levered off.
I then set on The Blob with a series of solvents – Lacquer thinner did nothing, water was little better, but rubbing alcohol and eventually methylated spirits softened it enough to scrub off. I am amazed that the IKEA cabinet has suffered no harm.
The culprit? Hair spray. A can that had been bought in Athens in 300 BC and left unattended since. A lesson to us all – though considering my head these days hair spray is no menace to me…
The triumphs that we celebrate most are not world-events. They are little victories close to home.